Will Hagle didn’t do it by mistake.
The fire alarm is blaring, and Young Dolph is blaming it on his album.
“Twenty-two tracks of straight fire,” he says.
These twenty-two tracks—a few of which Dolph or Key Glock insist be played back in their entirety—must be heard before my steak can be served. I was drunk on free vodka sodas, sipping a Perrier and cutting into a delicious steak at 10:30pm on a Saturday night at Young Dolph’s house. Why should I be upset about anything, when everything is so strange and glorious?
Dum and Dummer is the name of Young Dolph and Key Glock’s joint mixtape, which arrives in full this Friday. But the official announcement of its name came last weekend via Dolph, who declaimed it from his perch beneath the DJ in the living room of the Hollywood Hills mansion where he’s been prolifically recording music videos and promoting projects via extravagant events for the past few weeks.
According to the invitation, the Dum and Dummer listening party was intended to be preceded by a meal prepared by “a private, well-known chef.” The only thing well-known about the chef that evening was that they took their damn time. Blunt-infused, grill-provoked smoke swirled around the kitchen as our collective stomachs grumbled along with the bass of “III,” the tape’s opening song, which started playing more than an hour after dinner was supposed to have been served.
Part of the struggle with processing Dum and Dummer was that it hard to even believe that my invitation to Young Dolph’s mansion was real. If you would have told me in 2015-16, when my wholehearted appreciation of the Memphis rapper’s music came to full fruition and that I’d be spending the evening at his house and complaining about how long it was taking for dinner to arrive), I would have considered you a conspiracy theorist on par with my Uber driver Andrew. The only other thing I wrote on my notes app about the album was this: “22 tracks is too long to wait for steak.”
The tables had been adorned with white cloth, fancy silverware, and flowers, like a wedding. I was becoming a Bridezilla. Even Too $hort’s Married to the Game was only 15 tracks. The reception should never happen before the dinner.
Aside from the food delay, Young Dolph exceeded expectations as an event host. He mingled with the people as they arrived and made generous use of the open bar, then spoke about the album in between every track. The 21-year-old Key Glock, 12 years Dolph’s junior, remained more subdued and soft-spoken throughout the night. He doesn’t yet upstage Dolph in terms of showmanship and natural charisma, but, alas, Glock can tear up a verse with scary consistency.
This collaboration between the two was, of course, inevitable. Key Glock is Dolph’s most well-poised-for-success protegé. They are cousins, apparently, by marriage. Glock appeared alongside Dolph on “Major,” off 2018’s Role Model. His own mostly feature-less mixtapes—Glock Season, Glock Bond, and Glockoma—show evolution and development. Glock’s energy and delivery meld well with the style Dolph has cultivated through PRE’s continued output. Dum & Dummer is their Like Father, Like Son; except that unlike Birdman, Dolph appears to be extending his prime years for eternity.
Rolling a blunt on a plush white couch overlooking a near-360-degree view of Los Angeles as the sun sets is exactly where anyone in their non-demon-infected minds should want to be during their prime. Young Dolph has achieved this. Key Glock has learned from Dolph’s success, and, under his tutelage, could emulate or surpass it. It’s a long way from Memphis to the Hills. Dolph might have self-funded Paper Route Empire through other means, but the music that he and Key Glock are putting out seek to cement their legacy of spreading the vibrant sound of Tennessee’s too-often overlooked city to people everywhere. Whether or not the album was audible at Dolph’s mansion on Saturday, PRE deserves to continue having as many celebratory parties as their 1% neighbors can handle, simply because they exist.
Early in the night, before the album played, partygoers began jumping back and forth over Dolph’s backyard swimming pool. Each attempt had more flair on it than the last, but every jump was an exciting, pointless, absurd gamble. Friends challenged each other, filmed the result, and went nuts every time anyone successfully made it over. It was the type of I-dare-you game you expect to break out at a party in the hills.
“What are you going to write about for your article? This?” A dude seated next to me asked, nodding towards the spectacle.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I guess.”
I would have preferred to write more about the album, but the songs themselves were too tough to understand. I did run into Tosten Burks, a talented writer and fellow member of the so-called “extended POW universe,” who offered his thoughts over the pounding beats: both rappers sound on the album as if they’re stretching themselves vocally in order to match and/or complement each other’s styles. Dolph, perhaps more so, sounds as if he’s come down to Key Glock’s level on Dum & Dummer, rapping in a lower voice, more consistently, and with less obnoxiously dynamic range. The majority of the songs, however, feature either one of the artists in an entirely solo effort. Solo tracks from these artists make sense back-to-back, but the collaborative songs, whether recorded together or spliced together through the magic of mixing, possess the best natural chemistry.
Any critical assessment of Dum & Dummer should be received, however, with as much muddled uncertainty as the way in which I consumed the album. Dolph repeatedly used the term “Insta-later” as a substitute for Instagram on the second track, but aside from that, it was almost impossible to hear anything either Key Glock or Young Dolph said on any of the songs. Lyrics are crucial aspect of both artist’s appeal. Without words, their beats can sound dull and repetitive, or generic like the Mac and cheese I would eventually, maybe, possibly, be served. When the food may or may not be on the way, however, what else is there to do but nod your head to the loud low rumble of the music?
The best I can say about the album is that it almost certainly won’t be disappointing to anyone who has ever enjoyed either artist. There’s one song that features a sad, spaced-out guitar lick as the most prominent sample. It’s a different tone than the rest of the tape, but the change of pace allows Dolph and Glock to strive for a style we haven’t heard much from them before. At least that’s the way it seemed, when they played it back multiple times. I don’t remember what it’s called, but I’ll find out along with the rest of you peasants on Friday.
Because I assume the Venn diagram between Dolph and the Sandman is a circle, you probably already remember that Adam Sandler’s impassioned speech at the end of Billy Madison results in this iconic line: “What you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response, were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”
That could have also easily become my response to the way I heard Dum & Dummer on Saturday night. Dolph and Glock didn’t add any noteworthy insight to the albums, and their words on record didn’t speak for themselves, because they were inaudible. Still, I don’t feel dumber for listening to it. Rather, I feel convinced that when the mixtape comes out for the non-elite general public this Friday, it will be bigger than the beanie on Baby Joker from Next Friday. It’s Young Dolph and Key Glock with twenty-two tracks that you can listen to whenever you want, whether you’re waiting for steak or not. What is there to be upset about?
Post Script: The Uber driver who took me home further distorted my concept of reality. After easing in with some light conversation about cars (our shared love of the Kia brand, not the 7 or so camo-painted sports cars parked in Dolph’s driveway, one of which pops up and is referenced multiple times in the new “Baby Joker” video, the chorus of which is: “Whole lot of camouflage in the driveway / Plug look like Baby Joker on Next Friday”), my driver quickly informed me that he’d contracted “a spirit wife” the last time that he masturbated to pornography. His soul had become infected with demons, so he’d been fasting for the past 48 hours to clear out his system. A pastor told him that apple cider vinegar would help with the demon issue.
Twenty-two tracks, needless to say, was no long wait for him.
By the end of the ride, he’d said “oh, that’s interesting” when I told him I didn’t think the 9/11 airplanes were CGI, informed me he’d “got into it with a Mormon” earlier, said that CERN is building a portal that will usher in the apocalypse, claimed that he sees the word “Royal” while driving around a lot because he’s from a royal bloodline of freemasons, talked about how he witnessed Beyoncé’s face shapeshifting at Coachella, explained the obvious fact that he’s done copious amounts of acid, mushrooms, and weed, and then said “basically, all the prophecies are coming true,” before dropping me off where his rideshare app had predicted.
Back home, I spewed out everything I could remember about the disturbing Uber ride I’d just had. Sober and half-asleep, Anna, my future (spirit-?)wife, asked me about the event.
“Did you take notes?” she asked.
“Yeah, mostly about the Uber driver,” I said.
On my phone’s notes app, there’s a lengthy list of the outrageous beliefs that the driver had relayed to me, plus quotes he said verbatim, like: “There’s a lot of crazy stuff out there. You just have to figure out what’s real and what’s not.”